A while ago I wrote a blog about my personal struggle with anxiety and what it looks like in my life. Today I want to talk about anxiety again but in a whole new way. Let’s talk about the reasons why it doesn’t suck so much. When I wrote my previous blog post about anxiety (if you didn’t catch that one I’d go find it and read it so we are all on the same page here) I was in a pretty good place. My anxiety hadn’t really reached full on panic mode for a while except when I’m on a plane but that’s a whole different nightmare. I still today feel like I’m in a pretty good spot with it. I’ve learned my restrictions and triggers and do my best to avoid those things. For example one of my biggest fears in life is to get kidnapped and or raped and one day I found myself starting to watch the lifetime movie Cleveland Abduction..... I made it about 2 minutes in before asking luke to turn it off. So basically I’ve come to know where to push myself and where to lay off. That’s why I’m here today to lay out a few reason why I’m actually thankful for anxiety.
Let me start by saying it’s taken me about 5 years to get to this point. I definitely didn’t start off this way. In fact I started pretty angry. To give you some background about 5 years ago is when I really started pursuing a relationship with Jesus. I have believed in Christ my whole life and “accepted” him when I was 8 years old but it wasn’t until about 5 or 6 years ago that I started learning how to have a relationship with Him. So I was pretty on fire at this point and things were going super great. That’s when anxiety hit and everything came to a screeching hault. I’m embarrassed to say that basically my first reaction was thinking if this is what getting closer to God brings then I’m not so sure this is for me. It was the typical I’m not cut out for this response. I couldn’t understand why the closer I got to Christ the more anxiety I felt bubbling up. I was basically angry, angry at anxiety and angry at God who I felt gave this to me. I felt like I was being punished for something but couldn’t figure out what. I’m happy to say that now my reaction to anxiety is not anger and questioning Christ, in fact sometimes it’s thankfulness.
I realize that anxiety was and is a way of showing me just how much I need Christ. Without anxiety I would still be relying on myself and others instead of Christ. It is still humbling to check myself and not get an attitude of I’ve gotten this far so I can handle it from here. It’s daily surrendering to my flesh and recognizing my need for Him. It was and is still bringing me ways to connect with and help others. Some of my favorite coffee dates have been on this exact topic. Anxiety is still a way to show where my faith rests when things are out of my control. Another way to humble myself and see if I’m resting on this world or solely on Christ. Lastly it is a way to show me just how incredibly faithful he is.
By no means am I officially over my anxiety, I don’t think I ever will be. I am at a point where I can look back and see how God has worked through it and it blows my mind every time I reflect on that. Sometimes when a thought turns anxious and I can’t seem to stop the cycle it’s as easy as saying God I trust you and I’m not going to give this thought another second of my time. Other times it’s not that simple and I just have to ride it out until it passes. The perfect example of this was a recent flight I took to Chicago. I know myself and I know flying makes me naturally anxious so I try to prepare myself the best I can. The flight from Columbus to Chicago is 45 minutes from take off to landing so I was feeling pretty confident and the flight there was perfect. I turned Taylor Swift all the way up in my head phones to drown out all the unnatural sounds planes make, took out yarn and my knitting needles and the time passed quickly. At one point I had thoughts of the plane going down but told myself no I wasn’t going there, I trusted God and moved on from that thought cycle. Now on the flight back same scenario totally different outcome. Everything was the same T-Swift, knitting and telling myself not today but yet halfway through the flight I found myself of the verge of full on freak out mode. All I could do was burry my face in Luke’s hoodie and wait out the time.
I couldn’t tell you why some days are easier than others. If I were to judge my progress day to day I would have no hope that I was getting better at handling it all. That’s why I choose to look back through the years and see how far I’ve come and how much my faith has been stretched and grown. That brings me an unbelievable amount of hope. I’m happy to report that through it all one thing has never changed and that’s God’s faithfulness. One of my favorite things to do when I’m feeling anxious is to recount all the times I have felt that exact same feeling and had the exact same thoughts and God brought me out of it. I think about every anxious moment and my thoughts are usually the same, I think something bad is going to happen to me or Luke and then that turns to anxiety and then I have that sinking feeling and then what do you know? That bad thing never actually happens and the feeling passes and yet another time I have to look back on and say see God was faithful there and he will be faithful here. If you feel deep in the midst of anxiety and think there is no light at the end of the tunnel I would tell you that it gets better. It doesn’t completely go away but it gets better. Though you feel all over the place with you thoughts and feelings, God hasn’t moved and He hasn’t changed. Rest in the fact that He is faithful.
Bt you, O Lord are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faitfulness.” Psalm 86:15